When it was appear about absolutely a year ago that Matt Johnson would be accumulating a new calendar of The The and touring again, admirers about the apple bare a minute to accumulate themselves. Because, while alliance tours are commonplace, this one feels special. The The haven’t toured in 16 years, and they haven’t played North America in 18 years. That the post-punk icons are aback is account for 18-carat celebration.
Even better, Johnson appears to be in accomplished form. Those accustomed with the assignment of The The apperceive that Johnson is a accurate jailbait artisan — a man able of axis claimed tragedy and absolutely heart-wrenching affliction into article achingly beautiful. Like Morrissey if he wasn’t a , Johnson mines his own affection and body for lyrics that accept an affecting appulse on those accessible to them.
It’s able-bodied accepted that the song “Love Is Stronger Than Death,” from admired 1993 anthology Dusk, is about the afterlife of his brother. Aback the alpha of the The The reunion, Johnson also has absent his ancestor and his earlier brother. The man can’t assume to escape tragedy, yet he seems absolute as he reflects on the actual aboriginal The The shows aftermost year.
“[I was] actual comfortable, surprisingly,” Johnson says. “We did some warm-ups — a brace in Nottingham and one in Leeds. Again we accent a anniversary in Denmark and played a appearance in Stockholm, and again London came afterwards that. Unfortunately, the alpha of the bout coincided with my father’s abrupt death, so that was primarily on my mind. Back I absolved out assimilate the Royal Albert Hall [stage], which was the aboriginal of the London dates, he was activity to be in the box watching, and I was actual aflame for him to be there, but he died a brace of canicule before, accidentally really. He was 86, and I begin out afterwards I’d aloof accustomed in Stockholm. Collected my bags, and got a buzz call. I had to go onstage a brace of hours later, so that was tough. That to one side, it was actual easy. I’ve never been one who suffers from date alarm or nerves, to be honest, so I knew that the bandage were actual able-bodied rehearsed.”
Johnson is a absorbing conversationalist; he seems as agog to ask us questions as we are of him. It feels like he’s consistently thinking, and that wit, acumen and ability comes beyond in his lyrics, from his 1981 Burning Blue Body admission (originally appear as a abandoned anthology but after repackaged as The The) through 2000’s NakedSelf, demography in fan favorites Infected and Dusk. Johnson is able-bodied acquainted of the affiliation that his admirers has with his songs.
“The archive has absolutely a bit of constancy with people,” he says. “It’s become a allotment of people’s lives, so the songs do a lot of the work. We assignment actual adamantine ourselves, but the admirers has such a able affecting affiliation with a lot of the songs that that instantly creates actual acceptable atmosphere central of the venues. It’s a lot easier than I thought, and in actuality I’m apparently adequate this bout added than any added bout that I’ve done. We accept a acceptable beam on the road. The bandage is actual bound — they’re accompany as able-bodied as colleagues. They’re ablaze musicians with a abundant faculty of humor, so we accept a lot of fun, aloof accomplishing what you adulation accomplishing with bodies that you like.”
So the catechism is, if he’s adequate The The so much, what took him so continued to get aback out there? Afterwards all, admirers accept been baying for shows for years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Johnson says that “life aloof got in the way.” He had kids and, while alive on some cine scores, watched as the music industry went through some aitionist changes.
“I formed The The at 17, absolution annal as a teenager,” he says. “Long tours, lots of promotion. I had my aboriginal son about 1997, and at that date I capital to footfall into the shadows. Months pass, and decades afore you apperceive it. The industry changed, and I accomplished I didn’t appetite to be on above labels anymore. I went from Sony to Universal and again aback to Sony. The way that the industry changed, accurately the major-label aspect, it was no best a acceptable abode for anthology artists. It became actual abundant bedeviled by R&B, pop and an attraction with short-attention-span hit singles. For an anthology artisan like myself, who had a blessed home with the old CBS company, I begin myself at allowance with the way it worked.”
So Johnson spent some time ambience up his own baby characterization and alive on soundtracks, basic a baby book publishing company, affairs a London studio, accumulating his own aggregation — basically activity aback to his grassroots beginnings. Now he’s adequate with it all, appropriately the acknowledgment of The The.
This North American bout coincides with the absolution of a documentary becloud about the band, The Inertia Variations, and a adventures by Neil Fraser alleged Continued Shadows, Aerial Hopes. The above will be screening at Hollywood Forever the day afore the aboriginal L.A. show. While Johnson admits that he struggled to duke over artistic control, he additionally says he’s admiring with both results.
“There are apparently things I would accept done differently, but that’s consistently gonna be the case, I suppose,” he says. “But I am pleased. They’re both bodies that I assurance and like, I anticipate they’re both accomplished and I’m blessed with what they did.”
The The performs at the Ford Amphitheatre on Monday, Sept. 24, and at the Hollywood Palladium the afterward night. Again, these will be the band’s aboriginal shows on bounded clay in 18 years, so apprehension will be high. For Johnson himself, he’s attractive advanced to advancing aback to the States alike if he has no accurate memories absorbed to specific shows in the past.
“The botheration with touring is, and I anticipate a lot of musicians tend to say this, it tends to blur,” he says. “When you’ve done assorted tours and you go from one burghal to addition in quick succession, it’s adamantine to remember. I can’t bethink accurately about the aftermost time we played there. I lived in New York for about seven years but I haven’t spent abundant time there aback 9/11 really. I’ve apparently been aback about bristles times aback then, and I’ve not been there for six years. I’m hardly abashed at the about-face that the administration in Washington started to pursue. That’s a botheration for me — this extreme, neo-conservative, hegemonic agenda. That’s been a worry. I’ve consistently been actual addicted of America and I’ve spent a lot of time there aback I was a 15-year-old. To aback see this ultra-right-wing shift, ultra advancing against the blow of the world, is actual disturbing.”
Tell us about it. Meanwhile, admitting he’s arena two sets in Los Angeles, he doesn’t plan to boggle too abundant with the set list.
“We kinda comedy the aforementioned set, unless it’s a festival,” he says. “Generally, we’ve tinkered and we’ve begin a clip that absolutely works. We tend to stick to that. I don’t like to change the set for the account of it in case addition was at two shows. Most bodies weren’t at both shows. We’ve acclimatized on a set that we’re absolutely admiring with now.”
To finish, Johnson offers account that longtime admirers accept been captivation out for — there’s new The The actual in the works.
“I’ve aloof started autograph new actual and am acquisitive to get article activity aing year,” he says. “I’m not absolutely abiding back the new anthology will be finished, but acutely I’m activity to accomplishment the touring, and there’s a soundtrack I’m scoring at the end of this year. Early aing year I can alpha arise on with recording the new album.”
The The plays at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24, at the Ford Amphitheatre. That appearance is awash out. They again comedy with Agnes Obel at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Hollywood Palladium. On Sunday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m., the documentary The Inertia Variations will be buried at Hollywood Forever, followed by a Q&A with Matt Johnson.
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